Dad died 38 years ago today and I have been wondering what he would think of the world today. He would appreciate many of the technological advances that make farm admin, planning and management more efficient but I believe that the industrialisation of farming would have saddened him. He was a real countryman, in touch with the rhythms of nature and responsive to her needs – he was a proper husband to the land, not a rapist. Our insatiable demand for cheap food has led to denuded soils, poisoned and homeless wildlife, the brutalisation of our farm animals and almost universal separation between producer and consumer.
Our disconnection from the land has had disastrous consequences for us as well as the land and its flora and fauna. We get our water bottled, we take any means of transport that keeps us separate from the ground, we like our food adulterated out of all recognition from the original plants that grew or animals that lived, we want strawberries at Christmas, we don’t trust the air to dry our clothes, preferring the tumble dryer instead. We don’t trust ourselves – our body’s innate intelligence – its cries for nutrition, water and sleep go unheeded and we don’t trust it to heal our wounds, cure our sickness and prevent infection from invading us. Mistrust breeds fear and fear breeds contempt.
At local level our lost relationship with nature manifests as a disregard for our own health and for the health of our local environment. At a global level we are on the edge of catastrophe. If we stop meddling with nature, exploiting it, trying to control it; if we enter into a healthy relationship with it we might just save ourselves. I’m sick of the brutalist agenda and hope for the ascendancy of kindness.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.